Not so clean

EDITOR: One pillar of Sonoma Clean Power is a 50-megawatt biomass plant that would burn wood to generate electricity. Carbon dioxide from wood is deemed to be "clean" while carbon dioxide from natural gas (ancient biomass) is "dirty." This distinction baffles those trained in chemistry or physics.

The biomass plant would burn 350,000 tons of wood annually, requiring 17,500 truckloads per year (48 per day, 365 days per year) driving perhaps 100 mile round-trips. The carbon dioxide emissions from heavy duty trucks and the equipment needed to load the wood is supposedly "clean."

Trucks of this size cause 1,000 times more wear and tear on our roads than SUVs. Our crumbling road system would be clogged with trucks and would further deteriorate to third world conditions.

Many proponents of Sonoma Clean Power would likely be among the most vocal objectors to building a biomass project, lending credence to Barnum & Bailey's belief that a sucker is born every minute. Without a biomass plant, many of the promised "green" jobs driving trucks would disappear.

For my home, I wish "community choice" included the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, whose rates are 30 percent below either PG&E or what Sonoma Clean Power is proposing.


Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa's vote

EDITOR: I commend Mayor Scott Bartley for his decision to schedule a vote by the Santa Rosa City Council on Sonoma Clean Power for July 9 ("Power agency deadline extended," Saturday). I hope that on June 25 the Clean Power joint powers authority gives serious consideration to the adjustments in the governing processes that are being requested by cities.

I urge the City Council to approve joining Sonoma Clean Power in July. The earlier a decision is made, the more quickly Sonoma County residents and businesses can settle their plans to bring more rooftop solar generation to Sonoma County, and the sooner we will all realize the benefits of steadily increasing local power generation.

There are signs that PG&E is beginning to follow the leaders in moving toward distributed generation of electricity. Sonoma County cities should be part of the leadership for this effort.


Santa Rosa

A place for government

EDITOR: In response to James R. Oglesby's letter ("The libertarian way," Tuesday), Abraham Lincoln said of secessionist slave-owners, "The perfect liberty they seek is the liberty of making slaves of other people."

Modern libertarianism is a disguise for unbridled exploitation. It accuses the state of being the only instrument that curtails our "liberty" while ignoring the role of banks, corporations, thugs and the 1 percent. Libertarians deny the need for a government put in place democratically to protect and work for the 99 percent.

In other words, their idea of "freedom" is an instrument of oppression. In Somalia and Afghanistan, for instance, feudalism took over in the absence of a centralized government.

The exercise of power does not end when you eliminate government (as imperfect as it might be), and it always morphs into a more localized and tyrannical system where the law of the strongest inevitably prevails. What is a democratically elected government if not the "voluntary cooperation" of the majority?


Santa Rosa

Airing both sides

EDITOR: You deserve a lot of credit for airing both sides of the Sonoma Clean Power issue and the choices we will be able to make — consumer choice is one of the basic values of our society.

A lot of the argument seems to hinge on whose definitions of "clean" are more valid. The PG&E approach offers less carbon dioxide production through its use of natural gas, hydro and nuclear power, but it may not be acceptable for those who are worried about the negative impacts of drilling, dams and nuclear power.

The county scheme counts biomass as "clean" even though it has massive carbon dioxide emissions. It also relies on credits, which are really just an excuse for using dirty power from coal and oil plants but buying the so-called credits and accordingly charging more to enable a profit to be made to stay in business.

The prospective county power participants are mostly based far away and have no local interest, which may or may not be a valid issue.

In general, there is no free lunch when it comes to energy production — so thanks again for doing a good job of airing these complex issues from both sides.